Fanboy Flick Pick: Transcendence Is a Sci-Fi of Ideas...Just

By Luke Y. Thompson in Movies
Friday, April 18, 2014 at 8:00 am


The story sustains an interesting dramatic conundrum throughout - we know, based on that opening scene, where things are going, and yet we root against the people who are most correct in assessing the situation. This could be deliberate ambiguity, or it could be just that the big movie stars are inherently more likable. Pfister wants us to have a conversation about technological pros and cons, and attempts to make it topical with half-hearted allusions to the NSA and polonium poisoning. In the end, though, it comes down to the standard trope of what life is and where the soul resides, with computer Depp a potential reverse-Pinocchio - a good boy deprived of real life and become an aggressive puppet who squashes his conscience. When it came time for his wife to make the crucial decision as regards their future together. I genuinely did wonder what way she'd go. That the idea isn't new - rather, a rite of passage for HAL-9000, Data and every droid since - may be a demerit, but at least there is an idea.

Aside from Depp's overly twitchy performance, acting is fine throughout, especially from Hall, who must both love and fear her new Electric Dream, and decide which emotion wins out. Morgan Freeman shows up and ably punches the clock as a character with no reason to exist (hell, he doesn't even narrate - Bettany does), and Cillian Murphy is here as Fed just because. Also Cole Hauser shows up for 5 minutes and still gets prominent billing in the credits, but he makes the most of those minutes like there were overage fees.

Perhaps the right 30-minute Twilight Zone episode could convey the story in tighter fashion, but compared to the movies I've seen lately that had no thoughts in their heads, I'll give a thumbs-ceilingward to this one that has at least two. And remember what the movies teach you, kids: any time science creates something that seems too good to be true, the unexpected side effect will get people killed. So the moral is you should never trust science.

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